Justin Thomas was only three years old when Tiger Woods made the decision to become a professional golfer in 1996. As Thomas began the early stages of his life, Woods began the early stages of his golf career. As time passed, Woods constructed the most dominant stretch of golf anyone has ever witnessed.
Thomas turned pro in 2013 but has been overshadowed by his friend Jordan Spieth, who many have compared to a young Tiger for his dominance in majors and laser-like focus.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) August 15, 2017
Thomas quietly began to put together a career year in 2017, winning three tournaments early in the season. His stardom rose when he came seemingly out of nowhere to win the PGA Championship in August. He won his fifth event at the Dell Technologies championship a week ago and a appears to be a lock for the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Now let’s rewind to one year ago as Thomas was preparing for the 2016 Masters. A then-22-year-old Thomas sought out the help of Woods in hopes that the four-time winner would have some tips to beat Augusta National.
As Justin Thomas has found out, being close to Tiger Woods can do a lot for your golf game. pic.twitter.com/1VH6seM9ws
— GOLF.com (@golf_com) August 30, 2017
“[Our relationship has gone on] over the last year and a half or so.
“I reached out to him last year and talked to him a little bit about Augusta and figured between him and Mr. Nicklaus there wasn’t really any better brains to pick. After talking to him, we kind of stayed in touch.”
– Justin Thomas
Woods has found a way to pass his knowledge of the game along to the younger generations. Something that keeps him in the game without actually playing.
“In Jupiter (Florida) we’d get together every once in a while to play golf or dinner or something,” Thomas added. “I’ve been fortunate that he’s taken a liking to me and we’ve gotten together as often as we can. He’s motivating to me. If he was playing he probably wouldn’t be doing the same thing. But not having to do too much, he’s probably watched more golf probably than he ever has. It’s been cool how he’s pulling for me.”
Now Thomas couldn’t have picked a better mentor from the myriad of pros who have had success on the PGA Tour. Jack Nicklaus would be an excellent person to talk about the nuances of the game, but the Golden Bear hasn’t played professionally in quite some time. Woods, on the other hand, is still technically active and knows most of these courses where major championships are played especially Augusta National.
Most golf courses go through renovations and change gradually over time, something that Nicklaus probably couldn’t help Thomas with as much as Woods can.
A couple years ago Butch Harmon was asked if Woods would ever come back to the swing coach who helped him win eight major championships. Harmon said ‘no’ and that Woods “doesn’t need him” because he’s the best player in the world and knows the golf swing better than anyone. That is a high degree of respect from one of golf’s great coaches, and it’s certain Woods has imparted that knowledge upon Thomas in their meetings.
— GOLF.com (@golf_com) September 9, 2017
Whether you like Woods as a person or not, the man knows the game of golf inside and out and is the perfect mentor for Thomas as he begins to climb the ladder into golf’s elite class.